It’s Friday night and everybody is somewhere doing something with someone. I’m home alone, cuddling up to my melancholy and on my fourth glass of wine. The truth is, I cannot face another night out downtown pretending I’m things I’m not.
I wanted to put away the masks for a night, they’ve been getting heavy, so I take them off and put them away one by one. Off comes Happy, Self-Assured, Sexy, and Cool Girl, all shoved into a drawer with my red lipstick.
I open up a second bottle of wine and think about the words I actually am. Sad, lost, lonely and insecure seem to cover it. I sit back down with my fifth glass, cover myself with a blanket and try to remember what it’s like to have arms around me. Not just as a prelude to sex, but to really feel someone holding me.
Two more words come to me.
These are just more sophisticated words to sugar coat ones like fuck buddy, booty call, side chick, good-time girl, and afterthought.
I’m good enough for a little while. I’m those 110 minutes of a movie that don’t completely pass before your hand finds its way beneath my blouse. I’m those hours that can only amount to a sleepover. I’m the breakfast you didn’t have to have with me. I’m a date that’s far less date and more cheap company. I don’t get dinners. Just whatever beer you have leftover in your fridge from last weekend. I try not to waste my time thinking about what I could mean to you, I’m too smart for that, I’ve been this girl too many times. At worst, the answer is nothing. At best, I’m worth the twelve dollars you spent on bottom shelf Cabernet because you were already at the grocery store to begin with.
I’m all impermanence. I am transient. Months from now, a year from now, you’ll forget what you used to do to fill up the time when you were bored on Wednesday nights. I am convenience. I’m not mad or hurt even. It’s who I’ve allowed myself to be. It’s a role I’m accustomed to playing. Frankly, there are times I put my mouth on yours and imagine myself swallowing a pill to cure the loneliness. Being good enough to be an alternative to pornography doesn’t translate as being good enough to take me home to meet your family. The truth is I could be anybody.
You don’t have to focus the lens or strain your eye to see me.
I’m not what you’re looking for, but I’m within your reach. I’m like the post-coital cigarette you offer me, that I take just because it’s there.
I’m the placeholder. Soon, I’ll stop hearing from you. The 2 a.m. phone calls and drunken texts will end. It’ll fizzle out. I expected it the whole time, but I’ll still wonder why. Then, I’ll run into you holding hands with a shinier version of me. She’ll be reaching for your face at that bar on Main I once met you in for a quick shot and a shared Uber ride back to your place. It was probably one of the only times I was ever with you in public, but tonight you’re parading her around and I know my job is done. Or maybe my friend comes across a picture of the two of you on Instagram, you doing the things we laughed about, her arms around you, kissing your cheek, while you’re licking her ice cream cone on some trip out of town you never took me to.
I’m someone you don’t have to see before dusk or after dawn if you don’t want. I come with a bonus. We spend all our time behind locked doors and closed curtains. You don’t have to explain me to anybody and you don’t have to explain anybody to me.
I’m the cool girl. You don’t have to take me to The Museum Of Fine Arts, out for dinner and drinks, or to Hermann Park. I’m content pretending I came over to watch whatever movie or documentary we spent just a few texts discussing. I’m not high maintenance. I’ll drink whatever beer you have at your place. You can call me baby in bed and I won’t mistake it for anything else the next day. I don’t fall in love. You don’t have to expect I’ll get attached. You can surprise me by cuddling me one morning, tell me how much you enjoy our time together, suggest we go out soon, and then disappear for three weeks after.
I am the girl on the side. I’m a warm body on nights someone else’s isn’t enough. On nights you’re seeking variety. I lie to myself and tell myself you’re the exception to the rule, but even on the surface, I know the truth. I like things that aren’t good for me. You look at me and see a fantasy. I’m just a secret you keep. I’m those dirty texts you send and then have to erase. I’m that memory you carry when you’re feeling some kind of way and she’s already asleep. You tell me stories you could never share with her without feeling judged or without her losing her temper. You can count on me to keep a secret. I know not to text outside of business hours or if you haven’t reached out to let me know it’s okay on weekends. We can run into each other and you can count on me to look the other way. You can count on me for a lot, actually. I don’t expect much from you. I won’t bring up her name if you don’t want me to. I will listen to you when you do. I’ll do things she isn’t into. I’ll understand when you can’t stick around, when you come by just for a visit, or when the lies are becoming a little bit difficult.
I’m the sexy girl. The fun girl. The good-time girl. I am always down for anything.
Who I am is also someone replaceable. I am ephemeral.
Who I am is tiring. What I am is lonely.
The truth is, I am craving the thing I’ve been afraid of for some time, now – intimacy. The truth is, lately, I haven’t been having much fun. Honestly, I don’t know if I ever was.
The truth is, while you’ve been using me, I’ve been using you.
The truth is, I don’t want you.
I don’t. But I want someone who will take me to the Menil Collection and out for some lunch after. I’m tired of having empty hands. I want to remember what it’s like to have someone else’s in mine out in the light of day. I want somebody who would be okay with their pillow smelling like me. I don’t want to worry about hair strands left behind, whether it be someone else’s or mine. I don’t want to just be a ghost sunk into the corner of someone’s couch, getting up, collecting their things, worried about overstaying their welcome.
I want to be more than just an afterthought. More than just nudes on an iPhone screen. More than just that text you get from your friend asking, “whatever happened to that girl.” I want to be somebody’s truth, I don’t want to be a secret.
The truth is, while we’ve been doing whatever we’re doing, I’ve been trying to fill some void. The truth is that while we’ve been having fun, I haven’t been having a good time at all.